MCPS Seniors Outperform Nation on AP Exams

February 7, 2006
African American and Hispanic Seniors’
Performance Tops National Average for All Students

Walter Johnson High School Honored as the # 1
AP World History Program in the World

Forty-four percent of the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Class of 2005 scored a 3 or higher on at least one Advanced Placement (AP) exam while in high school—more than triple the national average of 14 percent and double the Maryland average of 21 percent, according to the new College Board Advanced Placement Report to the Nation.

The College Board also named Walter Johnson High School’s AP World History program the best in the world. No other school of a similar size had a greater proportion of its student body succeed in AP World History last year. Walter Johnson is the only public school in Maryland to win such a distinction this year. Overall, Walter Johnson has nearly doubled the number of students taking AP exams in four years.

For the second year in a row, more than 50 percent of the MCPS graduating class took an AP exam while in high school, far in excess of the national average of just 23 percent. At the same time, the number of students scoring a 3 or better has grown significantly, from 2,621 in 2001 (33 percent of the class) to 3,941 in 2005 (44 percent of the class).

“This outstanding performance on Advanced Placement exams demonstrates once again that our students are among the best in the world. More and more students from every part of the county are taking challenging AP courses and succeeding,” said Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools. “As we work to raise the bar and close the gap, our African American and Hispanic students are making exceptional progress. Not only are they significantly outperforming their peers across the country, but they are scoring above the national average compared to all students.”

African American and Hispanic seniors in MCPS performed significantly better in rigorous AP courses than their peers across the nation. In fact, five times more African American students in MCPS succeeded on AP exams compared to African American students nationwide. Twice as many Hispanic students in MCPS scored a 3 or better compared to other Hispanic students across the nation.

The percentage of African American graduates who took an AP exam grew from 17 percent for the Class of 2001 to 29 percent for the Class of 2005. The percentage of African American graduates scoring a 3 or better increased from 11 percent for 2001 graduates to 17 percent for 2005 graduates.

For Hispanic graduates, participation increased from 22 percent for the Class of 2001 to 38 percent for the Class of 2005. The percentage scoring a 3 or higher increased from 18 percent to 33 percent.

“Increasing AP enrollment has been a significant element in our reform efforts. Today’s results show that we are making enormous progress. In both participation and performance, nearly every subgroup of our students is surpassing its national average. Their accomplishments are truly gratifying,” said Dr. Charles Haughey, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education.

MCPS also saw exceptional growth in the participation and performance of students with special needs, limited English skills, and those participating in the Free and Reduced-price Meals System (FARMS) program.

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